Moving is stressful. There’s no disputing that. Moving with pets can be especially stressful because there’s no way to explain to them why their lives have suddenly been turned upside down. Fear not, though. As guilty as we tend to feel about uprooting our animals, they tend to adjust pretty well and with a few tips, pretty easily.
Relax – Your pets feed off of your state of mind. Stick as closely to your routine as possible. While it’s very easy to lose track of time while preparing for a move, your animals won’t. Keep their usual feeding and exercise schedules. If possible, pack when the pets are outside and put boxes against walls instead of in the middle of the room.
Plan – Take her to the vet. Make sure she’s caught up on her shots. Ask for her file or ask your vet to fax her file to her next vet, if you’ve made those arrangements.
Are you driving to your destination or are you flying? Discuss the mode of transportation with the vet. He might suggest some medications that might help alleviate stress. Help prepare your pet for the car ride by taking her for short trips. Get her used to the crate by putting lots of “friendly” items in there, like a toy and a shirt that smells like you. Flying a pet can be a bit controversial, but remember that for the vast majority of pets, flying is safe, although it can be very stressful. There is an airline that caters to flying pets, but as of this writing, its future is unclear. If you are uncomfortable about flying your pet and driving is not an option, there are organizations that specialize in transporting pets.
If you are traveling by car and you will be staying in hotels or motels along the way, make sure you are armed with a list of pet friendly options. If possible, make reservations in advance and confirm that you will have a pet. Here is a list of pet-friendly lodging options, but some might have size restrictions.
On Moving Day – If at all possible, get your pet out of the way. It’s not uncommon for a stressed animal to run away or for a freaked out dog to bite your movers. If he is socialized, take him to doggie day care. If you have a cat or bird, ask a friend or relative to take him for the day. If you can’t take your pet to another location, crate them. Even if you aren’t moving your furniture, move some things that will remind your pet of home, such as blankets that smell like you.
At Your New Home – As a general rule, cats are attuned to their environment while dogs are more attuned to you. Both, however, want to see familiar people and familiar things. If possible, stay home for at least a couple of days to give your pet time to associate the new surroundings with you. Spread lots of comfortable things around the house, like dog beds and favorite toys. If you do need to leave home, try to make the trips as short as possible and make sure there are no escape routes. Be prepared for behavioral problems in the beginning. My dog has a tendency to get in the trash (and other things) more often right after moving. Some might urinate inside. Some might become more aggressive. Some might refuse to eat. If severe behavior lasts more than a day or two, contact a veterinarian. If you have an outdoor cat, keep him inside until he’s used to his new surroundings.
Again, the most important thing for you is to stay calm. Establish the same routine in your new home as you had in your old one. Explore your neighborhood with your dogs. Find local dog parks and remember that your pet will adjust very quickly.
For more tips on moving pets, even more exotic pets, Petfinder is a great resource.